Create a Career advancing Network

A network is essential for helping you to advance your career but it also opens doors to making new friends, new opportunities and is even fun as you become better at it.   If you’re the type of person who hates networking, you are not alone.   Most of us aren’t naturals and would much rather work longer hours than try to connect with someone important that we don’t know.

Here are our top 5 tips to help you become a brilliant networker :

1. Evaluate your current Network

“The richest people in the world look for and build networks, everyone else looks for work” – Robert Kiyosake

It’s good to take a step back and take an honest appraisal of your network.   You might feel you don’t have one but if you’ve ever spoken to anybody, then you have a network.  So, is it any good?  Can you reach out to your network when you’ve got a need regarding your work or career?  Does anyone reach out to you for help or advice?  Think about these people that you already know and categorise them into 1 of 4 groups :  Decision Makers (they can strongly influence your advancement), Mentors (they give you advice and help from their experiences), Peers (people around your level who you confide in or get on well with) and Others (interesting people you connect with regularly).   Rate your relationship with each individual on a scale that works for you.   Consider a scoring from 0-5 – a ‘5’ could be defined as you know extremely well and that they think highly of you.   Now consider your list and notice how many are in each grouping and also how high or low your scores are.  How many genuine Decision Makers do you have on there?   This overall picture gives you a view of the health of your current network and shows where your opportunities are.

2. Select your ‘Targets’


“Know where you want to go and make sure the right people know about it.” – Meredith Mahoney

Now it’s time to start targeting who your next key contacts are.   If you’ve a focus on career advancement, the Decision Maker and Mentor categories are most important.   Are your scores or the number of people in these categories low?   If yes, then this a ‘red flag’ for yourself.   You need to start actively building your relationships in these areas immediately.   A great way to do this is to just sit down and brainstorm a list of the potential people who are going to be critical for you to get to know.   Having 1-2 mentors is probably enough, it’s likely that there will be 5 or more really key decision makers.  I recommend creating a Top 5 Target list and a Top 5 Watch list.    The Target list are those people you want to actively pursue.   You want to reach out to them and begin or enhance a relationship.   The Watch list are almost likely your next Targets but they could contain Peers and Others who you feel are interesting or are going places.  You may bump into one of them in the corridor or be the first ones on a Zoom call.  If they’re on your watch list, you’re more inclined to make an effort to say hello and start an exchange.   I know this may all sound a bit surgical but you’ll find that over time, your approach to networking will become more natural.   You will develop friendships and peers from the past are, all of a sudden, new CEOs.   However, if your evaluation tells you that you’ve work to do then having a structured approach will ensure you spend your precious time on people who are going to have the most impact on your career.   Lastly, give yourself a goal for how you will improve the relationship with each of the people on your list.  Consider maybe a 9-12 month window and use the 0-5 scoring system again.  What is going to be your before (current score) and after (goal score)?    Remember, their perception of you is the most critical thing so tune into that as you consider your scores.

3. Reach out, arrange meeting & prepare in advance

“The single greatest ‘people skill’ is a highly developed and authentic interest in the other person.” – Bob Burg

Arranging meetings with the people on your Target list is the next step.   A common misconception is that you need to have a common project or significant reason to reach out and connect. Don’t worry, you don’t.   You can just send them an email (or whatever means you prefer) and ask them for a 10-15 minute conversation.  Say that you’ve admired their work, how they’ve managed to do so well in their careers and that you’d love a few minutes to listen to their story and learn from them as you consider your own career journey.  I’ve never heard of a senior person refuse an ask like that.    Once you’ve the initial meeting in your calendar, you need to prepare.   This meeting is all on you.   You want it to go well and if you  plan it properly, the chances of success are much higher.  Consider how you want to open the meeting.   Having a short ‘elevator pitch’ about yourself is helpful.   Maybe a 1 minute summary of what you do and why you’ve reached out.   Ensure you have done your research on them.   What companies have they worked in?  What has been their progression up the corporate ladder?  Do they have any interests that you’re aware of and maybe you’ll even find something in common.   What questions you are going to ask?   It might even be a book they would recommend or the best advice they’ve ever received.    Don’t make the questions difficult.  Prepare the 2-3 things that you want them to take away about you and your aspirations.   Above all, keep it simple and make it primarily about them.

4. Make your 1st Networking meeting count

“Courage starts with showing up and letting ourselves be seen.” — Brené Brown

OK, you’re prepared well and are ready to go.   Whether it’s a video call or face to face, be there a couple of minutes early and ensure you’re dressed appropriately.   Have your phone on silent, take a deep breath and go for it.    Kick the meeting off with a warm greeting and the ‘elevator pitch’ you’ve prepared.  A good start will help everyone to relax.   Remember that they are a normal person just like you and they want to enjoy this meeting too.   Most senior people have big egos.  This isn’t a bad thing – it’s probably been necessary for them to achieve those career heights.    Play into that ego.   Don’t worry if they speak for 70-80% of the time.  Just keep teeing up questions that enables you to get insights but also has them telling you about their best moments and career highlights.   They will be smiling and feeling very good about reflecting back to these great moments and best of all, you’ll be brought along for the ride.   When they think back to their meeting with you, it will be a positive, happy memory and they will associate you with that.  This is likely to be far more memorable than anything you might have said.   It is important that you drop in a few key messages about you.  You want to leave them with 1-2 of your achievements and also what it is you want to do with your career.  I’ve lost track of the number of times, in meetings like these, where I’ve asked the person “so, what do you want to do in the future?” only to receive a blank stare and an “I don’t know” answer.   This puts all the work back on the senior person.  You might not fully know what you want to do but have some ideas and some good questions so you can turn the query into a real positive.  Remember, they are an important decision maker so what ‘seeds’ do you want to plant that they will pick up on that they will remember when that crucial decision making time comes around (promotion, who goes on the Top Talent programme or whatever).   Be conscious and respectful of their time so plan how to end the conversation.  As part of that, it’s always good to tee up a potential next  meeting.   You don’t need to settle on a time or day, just to get them to agree to the idea of it.   Once you’re on your own again, take another deep breath and give yourself a major ‘pat on the back.’   This is not easy but every one you do gets a little more comfortable.  You’ll have the odd bad one but that could be that you just got them at the wrong time.  Look to continually hone your skills and learn what works and what doesn’t.  

5. Follow up & repeat

Follow up

“You can have everything in life you want if you will just help enough other people get what they want” — Zig Ziglar

Now that you’ve opened the door to a future meeting, set a reminder for yourself when to reach out for the next appointment.   It may be 1 month or even 3 months in the future but don’t let your hard work go to waste by not planning for the next layer of the relationship to be built.   It’s a really nice touch to send an email after the meeting thanking the person for their time.  Maybe highlight some of the things they said that resonated with you and if you agreed to provide them with anything, make sure you do that promptly.    If they recommended a book, it can be good to email them a few weeks later with a couple of takeaways that you got from the book.  It’s all about showing you listened, you truly valued what they had to say and that you’re interested in growing the relationship.   Know that almost all the work is on you to make that happen.    Once you’ve made progress against your Target list, find a new top 5.   Maybe some of the Targets move to the Watch list.  As you get better at this, you’ll realise that there are networking opportunities all around you every day – both virtual and face to face.    This is how you really expand your Peer and Other categories.   You’ll find yourself offering help to others and looking for nothing in return.  At that point, your network starts to take care of itself.  People will see how genuine you are and will want to be around you and to help you when you need it.   Networking takes time and courage and it’s never too soon to get started.  It will probably be the best investment in your career that you’ve ever made.   Take that deep breath and go for it!!!

I hope you found this useful.     If you’d like us to assist you in any way, feel free to email us at or sign up for a free introductory meeting on the homepage of the website


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *